“Siegfried” condensed…

February 27, 2018


Conceived out of the year of failed revolutions – 1848 – Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen (1876) is a fusion of drama and epic narratives forged in a cultural hearth of shifting ideologies. Wotan disguised like an old man, becomes the Wanderer. Mime twists plots to obtain the ring of power created by his brother. Siegfried returns from his wanderings in the forest with a wild bear in tow, and immediately breaks the new sword. Mime has raised Siegfried as a foster child. Similar to The Fool, Siegfried complains to Mime that he has never learned the meaning of fear. Siegfried arrives, and the Wanderer questions the youth. Design by Meredith Eliassen, 2018.


Mime despairs as he imagines the ferocity of the dragon, Fafner. The Wanderer also arrives at the entrance to Fafner’s cave, where Mime’s brother Alberich keeps vigil. A forest bird sings to Siegfried of a woman sleeping on a rock surrounded by magic fire. Siegfried, unaware that intimacy brings vulnerability, wonders if he will learn to comprehend fear from this woman, and follows the bird to the rock. Siegfried, confronted by the Wanderer, does not recognize him as his grandfather, and insolently responds before continuing on the path towards Brünnhilde’s rock. The Wanderer blocks Siegfried, but the youth only mocks him, laughing at his floppy hat and his missing eye. Siegfried breaks the Wanderer’s spear, the symbol of Wotan’s authority, with a blow from his magical blade, Nothung. Wotan calmly gathers up the pieces and vanishes. Siegfried passes through the ring of fire, emerging on Brünnhilde’s rock. At first, he perceives the sleeping armored figure to be a man. However, as he removes the armor, he discovers a woman beneath. She is the first woman he has ever seen, and at last Siegfried understands the power of fear. Design by Meredith Eliassen, 2018.

Old Man Rhine

The Rhine River as an old man knows what starts in the River, is fated to return to the River. Design by Meredith Eliassen, 2018.

Another grassroots production of the transient Trade Wind Opera Company, where even the Wanderer looses his hat.


Is she good or bad…

March 28, 2017


Queen of the Night, or Königin der Nacht, is a major character in the Mozart opera called “The Magic Flute” (1791). “The Queen of the Night’s Aria”, “Der Hölle Rache” in act II inspired this drawing by Meredith Eliassen, 2017.

In a fantastical world of ferocious serpents and enchanted musical instruments, a noble prince sets out to rescue a beautiful princess and ensure that truth and justice prevail…

A serpent chases young prince Tamino through a valley. He is rendered unconscious, and three ladies kill the snake. Tamino awakens with the assumption that a good natured bird catcher named Papageno killed the snake. Once Papageno takes credit for heroics of the three ladies, they reappear and padlock his lips to prevent further white lies. The ladies show Tamino a portrait of Pamina, the beautiful daughter of their mistress, the Queen of the Night. He is immediately smitten. The ladies inform Tamino that Pamina has been kidnapped by an evil magician named Sarastro. The Queen appears and asks Tamino to rescue Pamina, and he agrees. The ladies free Papageno and give him a magic set of chimes. They also give Tamino a magic flute and send the two off on their mission. Papageno comes across Pamina who is being seduced by her villain captor named Monostatos. Frightened, Monostatos runs off, leaving Papageno to tell Pamina that her rescuer is close. Three boys lead Tamino through Sarastro’s realm. He tries to enter the three temple doors, but is turned away from the first two. At the third door, a priest greets him and informs him that the Queen is evil and that Sarastro was merely trying to prevent Pamina from getting under her mother’s dark influence.

“Der Hölle Rache” Notecard


Poor Butterfly
For she loved him so…


Young Ciocio-san awaits Pinkerton’s return from her past as her fathers hara-kiri knife looms before her. Inspired by Madama Butterfly (1904) composed by Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924), this design is by Meredith Eliassen, 1917.


A stormy opening of Aïda

January 18, 2017


Aïda (1871) is the love story of an Egyptian military hero named Radames and a captured Ethiopian princess set during the reign of the pharaohs. Aïda was written by composer Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) and librettist Antonio Ghislanzoni (1824-1893). Design by Meredith Eliassen, 2017. Aida Notecard

Norma (1831) composed by Vincenzo Belini (1801-1835) and based upon the libretto by Felice Romani (1788-1865) tells the epic story of a Druid priestess who breaks her vows and bears two children of a Roman soldier only to discover he has fallen in love with a younger woman. This quintessential bel canto opera was one of the first to be performed in Gold Rush San Francisco.


Design featuring Celtic motifs from the “Book of Kells” by Meredith Eliassen, 2016.

The Trade Wind Opera Company has gathered for a short summer run… in the San Francisco fog.


Hint… see the smoke in the fog? Design by Meredith Eliassen, 2016.

Susanna has a secret habit… Il segreto di Susanna is an intermezzo in one act by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (1876-1948) with a libretto by Enrico Golisciani (1848-1919) that premiered with a German translation in 1909.

So the Trade Wind Opera Company concludes its first season with this singular Mascagni operetta in three acts is based upon Carlo Lombardo’s operetta La duchessa del Bal Tabarin and Felix Dörmann’s libretto for Majestät Mimi.


Portrait of Si wearing a strand of millefiore “trade wind” beads from the operetta by Pieto Mascagni (1863-1945) and librettist Carlo Lombardo (1869-1959), design by Meredith Eliassen, 2016

This design depicts, Si, a woman with the romantic spirit of a nomad, someone who is initially carefree in her romantic life. Inspired by the design concept of the “girl head” or “gypsy” tattoo, Si has a colorful, bold, pretty face with detailed adornments. According to tattoo historians, this form of tattoo design is traced to nomadic gypsies, also known as the Romanis that migrated to Europe.

Stay tuned for more operatic designs…




Turandot by Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) is most nearly based upon Turandot by Carlo Gozzi that is in turn based on a story from the 12th-century epic The Seven Beauties by Persian poet Nizami about a princess Turan-Dokht how was the daughter of Turan. Set in China, the Prince Calaf, falls in love with aloof Princess Turandot. In order to obtain permission to marry Turandot, any suitor must solve three riddles correctly, and any wrong answer will result in death. The Calaf passes the test, but Turandot still refuses to marry him. He offers her a way out: if she is able to learn his true identity before the next day dawns, he will sacrifice his own life.


Pictured here are Turandot, the Calaf, and his slave Liù. Design by Meredith Eliassen, 2016.

Turandot, with a libretto by Giuseppe Adami (1878-1946) and Renato Simoni (1875-1952), was unfinished at the time of Puccini’s death in 1924 and was completed by Franco Alfano (1875-1954) two years later. It premiered on April 25, 1926.

Richard Wagner (1813-1883) composed and wrote the libretto for Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf Wartburg = Tannhäuser and the Singers’ Contest at Wartburg Castle (1845), which is based uponon two German legends that once again focuses on redemption through love.


Will our protagonist choose mortal love after being seduced by a goddess? Which face with Tannhäuser show? Design by Meredith Eliassen, 2016.


Les pêcheurs de perles (The Pearl Fishers) is an opera in three acts by the French composer George Bizet (1838-1875) with a libretto by Eugène Cormon (1810-1903) and Michel Carré (1821-1872) that premiered in 1863.


An imaginary seascape for Les pêcheurs de perles set ancient island Ceylon featuring to pearl fishers. Design by Meredith Eliassen, 2016.

Set ancient island Ceylon, The Peal Fishers is the story of two men who vow eternal friendship, which is threatened by their love for the same woman who is conflicted with her emotions related to secular love and her sacred oath as a priestess.